The Telegraph newspaper has effected a reconciliation between Philip Green, the billionaire retailer, and Paul Myners, the interim chairman of Marks & Spencer.
Following Green’s decision to drop his plans to buy M&S 10 days ago, Myners was outraged by comments allegedly made by Green last weekend that Myners was ‘an anti-Semitic left-winger’.
“I plead guilty to being left wing, I even plead guilty to being Old Labour,” Myners told The Telegraph. “On the anti-Semitism, it ill-behoves Philip to throw these charges around. There is no foundation for making them.”
Myners – who is also chairman of Guardian Media Group – last week consulted Olswang, the solicitors, and was confident he had a case for defamation. He said he would sue if he didn’t receive a public apology from Green.
The comments attributed to Green were in the Independent on Sunday. When contacted by The Telegraph, Green – who is enjoying a holiday on Lionheart, his lavishly furnished yacht – insisted that they had been taken out of context. He said he had simply been running through a range of possible explanations for why Myners had allegedly said he didn’t want Green – who is Jewish – to become the richest man in the UK.
However, Green decided to defuse what could have been an explosive row and immediately telephoned Myners. “He apologised unreservedly to me,” said Myners. “I’m going to leave it at that.”
The incident followed a furore earlier this month over remarks by Nicholas Soames, the Tory shadow minister, which Green interpreted as anti-Semitic.
Myners also said that his decision on whether to apply to become permanent chairman of M&S would be made “one way or the other this week.”